‘Obama Doctrine’ to be unveiled in Cairo?
|Tuesday, June 2,2009 10:24|
On Thursday, President Obama will address Middle Eastern audiences in a much anticipated speech at Cairo University. President Obama is expected to unveil his Administration’s foreign policy approach for the Middle East. Whether he will renew America’s longstanding commitment to democracy promotion in the region is unknown. POMED’s Shadi Hamid writes of Obama’s challenge to address two audiences - Middle Eastern regimes and publics - at once. With Egypt’s poor record on democratic reform, Stephen Grand at Brookings warns of the difficulties in striking a balance between reaching out to oppressive governments and addressing their unrepresented citizens.
The prevailing question among commentators is whether Obama will mention democratic reform or avoid prioritizing democracy in the region. Yesterday, the Washington Post asked a host of experts, including Aaron David Miller, Ayman Nour and Steven Cook, what Obama should say to the Middle East and Muslim world. At the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, David Schenker argues that democracy will not be at the forefront of Obama’s address, but that the speech is indicative of positive rapprochement in U.S.-Egyptian relations based on common interests in the region, including Iran and the peace process.
People in the Middle East are attentive to Obama’s message, yet the Daily News Egypt reports that reactions in Egypt are varied, with opposition to the visit largely based on U.S. support for Israel or Egyptian human rights concerns. In the Los Angeles Times, Egyptian activists Ayman Nour and Saad Eddin Ibrahim are calling on Obama to aggressively target democracy promotion and human rights. Similarly, on National Public Radio, Egyptian democracy activist Ahmed Salah argues that Obama should deliver a message focused on democratic reform and rights as part of dialogue with repressive regimes. In the broader Muslim world, the Huffington Post reports that Muslims want Obama to bring tangible changes with his message of hope, he must “walk the talk,” and that he will ultimately be judged by his actions and policies more than his speech